Definition of strained in US English:



  • 1(of a person) showing signs of tiredness or nervous tension.

    ‘Jean's pale, strained face’
    • ‘It was all we could do to keep up on our laden-down mountain bikes as he blazed a trail and made pleasant conversation in return for which we replied with strained grunts and squeaks.’
    • ‘Before she can shake her head in strained resignation, Rhett Remiel steps up next to the table.’
    • ‘In the street the other day, I saw a couple of new arrivals in town who had the strained features of people who might have just descended the south face of Everest.’
    • ‘Meanwhile in Toronto, the mayor, with a strained voice, explains to irate restaurant owners why they're being double billed for garbage pickup.’
    • ‘Far from the strained looks clearly visible on Glasgow's streets, Edinburgh shoppers were casually sauntering, even finding time to indulge in the Christmas market.’
    • ‘After a couple more exchanges like this, my voice becoming increasingly strained, he finally picked up the vibe that he was unwanted.’
    • ‘Of course, her strained silence, paled skin, shaking hands and lowered eyes did not betray her feelings.’
    • ‘But once the pallbearers had executed their duties perfectly in the full gaze of the nation, their strained faces were clearly shown to be glistening with beads of perspiration.’
    • ‘Her voice was strained and sad, shivered like an autumn leaf trembling in the wind.’
    • ‘Jamie growled to himself and lifted his hands in a tense strained pose, ready to strangle.’
    • ‘The scientific controversy is beyond me, but I can recognize the fixed stare, the strained voice-throb and the rigid jaw of a madman at a hundred paces.’
    • ‘Several minutes of strained, nervous gazing about the room passed.’
    • ‘Alex's voice held a strained edge, sounding as if it would break any minute.’
    • ‘Here, for all her delicacy of phrasing, Arleen Augér's tones have a slightly strained quality, as though the work lies at the edge of her voice.’
    drawn, careworn, worn, pinched, tired, exhausted, weary, fatigued, drained
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    1. 1.1 (of an atmosphere, situation, or relationship) not relaxed or comfortable; tense or uneasy.
      ‘there was a strained silence’
      ‘relations between the two countries were strained’
      • ‘There was an awkward and strained silence between them for a moment, but it was broken by a familiar female voice.’
      • ‘There would be a few minutes of strained silence as we were handed over from one parent to the other, all under the watchful eye of my aunt.’
      • ‘The front door opened, interrupting the strained silence.’
      • ‘He was saved from the strained silence when she let out a victorious cry as the last splinter was caught between the tweezers.’
      • ‘There was a strained silence and when Helen spoke again, her voice suddenly lacked its formerly friendly tone.’
      • ‘The elevator ride seemed endless, full of strained silence and uneasy sideways glances.’
      • ‘The meetings between her parents were strained and uncomfortable.’
      • ‘The strained, tense atmosphere made the house extremely uncomfortable.’
      • ‘The strained silence between them was making her self-conscious.’
      • ‘We sat in a strained silence, our ears trained on any noise that was out of the ordinary.’
      • ‘He cried as he told me how she was alienating him from his children and how their previously fun times together were now strained and difficult.’
      • ‘The strained silence had said more than they each ever could.’
      • ‘There was a strained silence for a while and then in the distance there was a clap of thunder.’
      • ‘Not a cheerful and easy class, not bubbling with the energy of youth, but heavy with the strained silence of fear!’
      • ‘Henderson was smiling gently, but since her eyes were on the flickering candles, I couldn't tell if she sensed the strained silence.’
      • ‘I know that generally strained and stilted conversations can't really be described as compelling, but this was a unique situation.’
      • ‘After about a moment of strained silence he finally answered.’
      • ‘The strained friendship has made for some awkward moments on the stand.’
      • ‘We sat in silence for several strained minutes, feeling awkward in one another's presence.’
      • ‘He rarely stepped into the house and only for lunch, which was usually eaten quickly in strained silence.’
      awkward, tense, uneasy, uncomfortable, fraught, edgy, difficult, troubled, embarrassed, unrelaxed, stilted
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    2. 1.2 (of an appearance or performance) produced by deliberate effort rather than natural impulse; artificial or forced.
      ‘I put on my strained smile for the next customer’
      • ‘Perhaps the tension of the situation explained his strained look as the public gallery in Dublin Castle dissolved into laughter.’
      • ‘She nervously giggled but gave him a strained look craving an answer to her question.’
      • ‘Darcy corrected him, still trying hard to keep the strained smile on her face, though evidently not trying hard enough, because it slipped at the corners when she spoke.’
      • ‘Favian seemed to find nothing wrong with Hakkana's strained smile.’
      • ‘There was a strained smile on her face as she glanced at him.’
      • ‘Speaking of seeing through each other's eyes, I saw through his, as he swallowed hard and gave me a strained smile.’
      • ‘People spoke in strained voices; laughed too long over old jokes.’
      • ‘In New York, this is tantamount to forking the maître d' in the eye, yet it is accepted with a strained smile as we are shown to our booth, the reservation intact.’
      • ‘‘Oh yes,’ I said with a small, strained smile, trying to cover up my moment of confusion.’
      • ‘It was a strained, half-hearted laugh of a guilty prisoner, whose friend had just made a joke about the death sentence.’
      • ‘‘It's not every day something like that happens,’ he said with a rather strained smile.’
      • ‘Sheldon just looked at him and smiled a small strained smile.’
      • ‘Sam smiled a bit as the rest offered their own strained smiles and laughs to his amusing but rather frighteningly honest statement.’
      • ‘Marcus didn't further agitate the strained conversation.’
      • ‘Amy's mother gave Mrs. Kung a strained smile and nodded politely.’
      • ‘My jaw dropped and a strained laugh escaped my throat.’
      • ‘‘I wish I could be of more help,’ Lucinda said with a slightly strained smile.’
      • ‘She hadn't seen Kenta much, but when she had in the last week he had been smiling nervously and in a strained manner.’
      • ‘It's a moderately fun party, spiced with bitchy gossip, confrontations that loom on the threshold of unpleasant and moments of strained intimacy.’
      • ‘She doesn't look any different and she's actually wearing a rather strained smile.’
      forced, constrained, laboured, wooden, stiff, self-conscious, hollow, unnatural
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    3. 1.3 (of a statement or representation) labored or far-fetched.
      ‘my example may seem a little strained and artificial’
      • ‘It is to be hoped, to pursue Latham's own somewhat strained imagery, that he understands that it was just one rung on the ladder, and one on which he cannot always rely in the future.’
      • ‘The dialogue and the acting are strained and unconvincing, and far too complacent considering the events under consideration.’
      • ‘His strained effort to explain away the photographs is fascinating.’
      • ‘But here the strained and unconvincing resolution arrives posthaste.’
      • ‘It seems to me that this is quite a strained argument for the constitution amounting to an ‘illegal coup’.’
      • ‘Rodriguez's strained effort to link the book to the events of September 11 is hard to read.’
      • ‘The second part strikes me as strained and unpersuasive.’
      unbelievable, beyond belief, hard to believe, scarcely credible, unconvincing, far-fetched, laboured, implausible, improbable, highly unlikely, not in the least likely, questionable, dubious, doubtful, inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable, impossible, astonishing, astounding, breathtaking, staggering, absurd, preposterous, phenomenal, extraordinary
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  • 2(of a limb or muscle) injured by overexertion or twisting.

    • ‘He starts to massage his strained muscles and vocal cords.’
    • ‘He had been troubled with the strained ligament problem for a few weeks prior to the match against the Spaniards and hadn't been training 100 per cent.’
    • ‘In case you end up with an exercise-induced strained muscle or two, have a few of these natural alternatives handy.’
    • ‘The words were as therapeutic as his strong hand against her tense strained shoulder.’
    • ‘Barlow has been bothered by a strained quadriceps muscle, which he hurt in the preseason and re-aggravated recently.’
    • ‘Scarcely less bizarre was the performance of Dwayne Smith, disgracefully absent the previous day, but who now came in and defied doctor's instructions to nurse his strained side.’
    • ‘His 2001 season ended early because of a strained muscle in his left side.’
    • ‘G Brandin Knight showed no signs that his strained right quadriceps was bothering him.’
    • ‘Just be sure that the root of your pain is nothing more serious than a strained muscle.’
    • ‘Most often, low back pain is caused by a stretched or strained muscle.’
    • ‘Tension disappears, as do strained necks, hunched shoulders, and unnecessary work.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, quarterback Mark Brunell was a spectator again during practice because of a strained hamstring.’
    • ‘For example, don't stretch strained muscles unless under a therapist's direction - you could cause further harm.’
    • ‘Bob Sura had the edge, but he has been hampered by a strained right calf.’
    • ‘Keane is suffering a strained hamstring and realistically should be back in a fortnight, but at his age, with his level of wear and tear, the absences are only going to get longer and more frequent.’
    • ‘He was also studying medicine alongside teaching music, and had many pupils with problems like tendonitis or strained muscles.’
    • ‘Clemens began the game tentatively thanks to a strained leg muscle suffered in his last start.’
    • ‘It was Carter's second game back after missing 10 games with a strained quadriceps muscle in his left knee.’
    • ‘Nanofilaments might circulate to strained muscle groups, forming chains and pulleys of super-strong protein.’
    • ‘I awoke to the sharp feeling of a bruised head and strained muscles.’
  • 3(of a mainly liquid substance) having been strained to separate out any solid matter.

    • ‘Pour cooled sugar-water mixture into aging container and add strained blueberry liquid.’
    • ‘Stirring constantly, cook for two to three minutes before gradually adding the strained milk.’
    • ‘Remove from heat and add six litres of water and half a cup of strained lemon juice and stir well.’
    • ‘Keep this strained wine in an air-tight container for another 22 days before use.’
    • ‘Add the strained liquid and the hot stock and cook for three minutes, whisking constantly.’
    • ‘Pour the strained mixture into the chilled glass, then layer with more crushed ice.’
    • ‘Gourds were used to contain the strained juices for fermenting.’
    • ‘The strained juice ferments into an alcoholic beverage and is taken as a general tonic.’
    • ‘Add soy sauce, hoi sin and 150 ml of strained mushroom water, and toss well.’
    • ‘A bowl of strained strawberry sauce was put out to dip them.’
    • ‘Remove from the heat, whisk in the clarified butter, and add this to the strained cream sauce.’
    • ‘Pour the strained liquor into a sugar-rimmed martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.’
    • ‘Beat the eggs and egg yolks, then add the strained cream, cold or tepid, and sweeten to taste - but very mildly as the apricots will be sweet.’
    • ‘Pour the strained liquid over the lamb shanks and serve.’
    • ‘Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and reduce to a thick syrup.’
    • ‘Females were induced to oviposit using an artificial crepuscular lighting period and strained water from larval pans as an oviposition stimulus.’
    • ‘Gradually add the strained liquid, gently using a whisk to incorporate until smooth.’
    • ‘Jelly preserves are like jam, but use strained fruit juice rather than fruit pulp.’